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Kiddies “Coloring Their Way” to Understanding the Court System


 

Ladyjustice was fortunate about 30 years ago to participate in two separate six week training programs for new homicide survivors offered in Greater Hartford by a special Victim-Witness Support Group. During the module dealing with the court system, a unique and wonderful bilingual publication served as a bridge for understanding for children.  This timeless book is called: “My Day in Court Coloring Book. (En Español- Mi Vista a la Corte Libro de Colorar). Author, Wilma S. Kiel, Day Care Teacher; Illustrator Elay Grey, Translator, Wanda Flag and sponsor, the Victim Witness Program of Phoenix, Arizona have taken a mysterious venture and made it tangible and understandable on a basic level. 

This publication appears to have been widely circulated across the country at one time, and was considered “state of the art.”  Ladyjustice believes it is just as relevant today… if not more so… 

This 28 page informative and boldly illustrated real coloring book is meant to:

1)  Acquaint the child with the court environment and court procedures;

2)  Acquaint the child with the roles of court personnel;

3)  Introduce the child to their potential scary role of testifying before a jury.

 

The content of the book includes identification of the exterior court building, the layout of the courtroom (seating arrangements, etc.); key terminology, the role-definitions of court staff; has an illustrated quiz, crossword puzzle and glossary of terms.  And lest we forget “a joke page” just to see if kids are paying attention!

 


 

This blogger guarantees that adults and children alike will be delighted with this coloring book!  And… this primer definitely “softens the blow” regarding the traumatic experience of having to actively participate (testify) in the court process.

Kudos to Wilma, Elay, and Wanda for their fine work!

Another benefit is that it is easily reproduced via photocopy or your local printer.

 

If Ladyjustice had her way, this coloring book would be “required reading”, re-printed and mass produced for every courtroom, child advocate’s office, victim- witness program, domestic violence shelter and elementary school in the country!

 

The Acknowledgement section at the end, rightfully credits the Phoenix Area (Maricopa County) Victim Witness Program who was the impetus for the project. Their stated objectives are as follows: 

  “The Victim/Witness Program provides assistance to the witnesses appearing in Superior Court Criminal Cases.  An objective of the program is to involve the community in the ongoing efforts to improve the Criminal Justice System. 

This coloring book acquaints children with the people involved in a Criminal Jury Trial. It depicts the Courtroom personnel and briefly describes their duties.” 

Indeed… to try to improve the criminal justice system!  Such a lofty goal! However, as seen through the eye of children as they “merrily color the pages” seems so simple and innocent (even if the defendant isn’t!) 

This publication peaked Ladyjustice’s curiosity for more, more of the same!  There are, in fact, a myriad of library and children’s center resources concerning how to assist a child who is grieving a loss.  But, there appears to be precious little on the topic of dealing with the court experience for the benefit of a child.  In addition to LJ’s favorite, “My Day in Court Coloring Book,” an internet search revealed the following resources: 

1)  The New York City Civil Court offers  “A Visit to Civil Court,”  a 15 page coloring and activity book in PDF version, in French and English which is available for downloading at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/nyc/civil/kids.shtml.  Content includes: Connect the dots; word puzzles; word search; court scenes in which to color; activities to solve and a matching game.  In addition, a “new” “Play the Court’s Memory Game” is linked to their website.  A link called “Court Classroom” features more word games, puzzles and quizzes for children of varying ages. 

2)   “The U.S. Supreme Court Coloring and Activity Book” by Jenny B. Davis, is available for reasonable purchase through Amazon.  A review from Tim Bigby, (husband of an attorney) stated: 

“This coloring book is great!  M wife’s law firm bought a box of them for “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” and other days when people’s kids are in the office. Each coloring book has a pack of crayons attached to it, so it’s perfect to have in the office.  Not to knock other coloring books out there, but there IS definitely something cool about your kid coloring Oliver Wendell Holmes rather than, say, “My Little Pony.” 

3)   “How I Feel, A Coloring Book for Grieving Children” by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. is geared toward very young children ages 3 to 8 years.  This book includes 20 pages of illustrations focusing on feelings of loneliness, being scared etc.  Currently, it is out of print.

 

The “Learning about Justice Initiative

   Illinois meets Kosovo… 

The “Learning about Justice Initiative” is an international project including a series of three coloring books: [Learning about Law; Learning about Judges, Learning about Responsibility]. 

The project is the first National Awareness targeting primary School Students initiated in Waukegan (Lake County) Illinois. 

[LJ- Waukegun is on the shore of Lake Michigan, 8 miles south of the Wisconsin border and 40 miles north of downtown Chicago with a population of 89,000.] 

The three coloring books are based on U.S. Law Day and the brainchild of Robert Zastany, Executive Director of the Circuit Court of Lake County, Illinois following a volunteer court assignment in Kosovo in 2009. 

Such an undertaking had many purposes such as: acquainting children in Kosovo about all aspects of the justice system in the United States; providing a “civics lesson” geared for second and third graders as in, buckle up for safety in your car, attending to pedestrian crosswalks, paying bills on time, being a good citizen etc. 

According to an article by USAID NSSC, courts throughout Kosovo distributed nearly 20,000 coloring books within nine different municipalities beginning on International Children’s Day- June 1, 2010 through 2011. 

The Payoff

Model Court Liaison, Florije Manaj-Zogal, leader of the Initiative in Kosovo, reported that thousands of students and hundreds of teachers have learned and incorporated such knowledge into their own curriculums for years to come as a consequence of this project. 

The actual creative work was conceived by a Kosovo based University student art competition.  Members of the judging committee were comprised of Mr. Zastany, a Director of Judicial Education from New Hampshire, and a Court Manager from Vermont…  The winning designs were completed by Kaltrine Alija, a Graphics Design and Marketing student from Ferizaj.  

The overall mission was to further understanding, raise awareness, and create a “fun and attractive learning experience…whether across the street or across the world”

[LJ- Such a wonderful and obviously attainable goal!] 

As stated in an earlier blog, coloring brings a sense of comfort and contentment… even to adults (Refer to “Listen Up, Because Time’s Up” Blog).

If we really have to subject children to the evils and realities of our society and the criminal justice system at such tender ages, then we may as well prepare them in a manner they can understand!

 Kids, Color Me Happy!    

For more information on the US-Kosovo Project: http://www.drejtesia-ks.org/?cid=2,15,166

   

Ladyjustice!

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